Baby’s got new shoes

Shoe quality, not quantity, is important to me because I have to compensate for my clubbed feet that were never properly treated when I was a baby.  I’ve had fifty years to practice walking so that the deformity is hardly noticed by anyone.  I am aware of my deformity because I have pain in my ankles and legs as I attempt to walk without twisting my feet and ankles.  A good pair of shoes reduces my discomfort.

My grandparents bought my first pair of shoes when they visited with us in Florida in 1963.  My parents had these shoes bronzed.  The bronzed shoes were then attached to a base with a bronze photo frame attached at the back of the base. After all these years, I can’t forget the photo that was displayed in the frame.  It was one of the many photos of me crying my eyes out as I posed for the photographer.  I was such an unhappy baby.  The bronzed shoes and my lovely photo were displayed in the same spot in the bay window in our house for many years.

I lost track of the shoes and photo when I left home at age nineteen.   A few years ago, my stepfather surprised me when he told me that he had kept all of the letters I had sent him over the years and that he also had my bronzed baby shoes. He seemed sentimental about having the shoes as it reminded him of the past so I told him to keep the shoes and have them sent to me at some point in the future.  He understood (without my saying it) that I wanted the shoes to be returned to me after his death.


The closest example of how I remember my baby shoes. Photo borrowed from eBay users rodneysandy149.

I have unintentionally become a collector of baby shoes.  When my grandfather passed away, I was given his family photo collection as well as a pair of leather baby shoes that belonged to his father. My great-grandfather was born in Wisconsin in the late 1880s to parents who had emigrated from Denmark only three years his birth.  I don’t know if the shoes were made in the U.S. or were sent by relatives in Denmark to my great-great-grandparents.


My great-grandfather’s baby shoes c. 1880s.

Richard’s parents died a few years after Richard passed away and I was given Richard’s baby shoes.  The shoes are so small and Richard was a large man – 6’6” with size 12 feet.  When I look at the shoes, it is difficult for me to imagine that he had ever been so small.  I would guess that he probably outgrew his shoes quite often.

Richard's baby shoes c. late 1940s

Richard’s baby shoes c. late 1940s

My stepfather died last year and his wife died six months later after her long battle with cancer.  They lived in Mississippi and I have no relationship or contact with his wife’s children.  I wonder what they did with my bronzed baby shoes when they disposed of my stepfather’s and their mother’s belongings.  I hope that someday my bronzed baby shoes will find their way back to me.  I’d like to add them to my collection.

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12 Responses to Baby’s got new shoes

  1. alienorajt says:

    This is incredibly moving. Alienora

  2. weggieboy says:

    Touching. I understand how objects become symbols of something important in our lives, a touchstone. I am the last member of my family who lives in this state, and I wonder what will happen with some of those objects I cherish, like a child’s chair that my mother sat in while her parents applied hot towels to her polio-afflicted legs.

    I knew the story of the chair, and saved it once. I’ve told the story of my chair to my siblings, and they weren’t aware of the significance. Were I to die first, the chair, which isn’t in the best condition and was modified from a rocker (i.e. has no value as an antique, which it is), surely will get tossed. At least, it will if I can’t find some way to assure its value is appreciated and the appropriate person gets it!

    I hope you get the bronzed shoes some day. You have an incredible collection that requires this addition to it!

    • Natasha says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope I get my baby shoes some day. Thank you also for giving me an idea for a new post about the memories we collect.

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